Monday, August 10, 2015

Character Insight No. 157: The Guardian of Forever

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here 

Wondering where episode 156 is? I recorded an interview live with Darrell "the Trek Nerd" Skeels at Nerdtacular 2015! Check out episode 199 of This Week in Trek for the full story, but it was unscripted and silly, as most good interviews are.


Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile a unique character which could be the subject of a future Star Trek movie, the Guardian of Forever.

Guardian of Forever, 2267

(The Guardian of Forever in 2267, courtesy

The Guardian of Forever was featured in the TOS episode The City on the Edge of Forever, which is deemed by many to be one of the better episodes of the series. The Guardian is a time portal that allows access to other times and dimensions, essentially acting as a core link between all the timelines of the Milky Way and possibly beyond. For example, time portals to various places like the Egyptian pyramids, the American Revolution, the civil war, and other historical times appear within the Guardian during this episode.

When the Enterprise first discovers the Guardian as a result of investigating the time/spatial ripples or disturbances caused by it, Dr. McCoy runs through a portal to the past as a result of paranoid delusions brought on by an accidental drug overdose. McCoy causes a change in the timeline around 1930 (insert Darrell 1930) that wipes out the Federation, so Spock and Kirk have to also travel back a little farther in time to prevent this from happening.

Kirk: "Are you machine or being?"The Guardian: "I am both... and neither. I am my own beginning, my own ending."

This timeline changing concept was so popular and well done that it has spawned many similar story lines, including arguably the movies Star Trek IV, Star Trek First Contact, and Star Trek 2009.

As for the Guardian itself, the only other time it appears in canon is on The Animated Series episode Yesteryear, where Kirk and Spock and a support team cause more timeline shenanigans while investigating the history of Orion and Vulcan. It also served as an original story piece in the TNG episode that became Yesterday's Enterprise, but it did not end up in the final story.

However, this character or item has a rich history that lived on in more than 10 Star Trek books and many comics. A couple of the more interesting stories involve additional Guardians or similar objects made by the creators of this character, a race that could be considered to have Q-like powers considering their creation. Such a storyline having big science fiction concepts but simple time travel and timeline tropes could be too much for the movie scriptwriters to resist, so I wonder if the Guardian of Forever or its creators will be the subject of an Abrams timeline movie. You could certainly do a lot worse.

The Guardian: "Many such journeys are possible. Let me be your gateway"

The Guardian was supposed to look far different than a silly-looking lopsided donut, but the regular set designer in charge of this script was out with the flu that week and his backup created the iconic donut. Despite this, the light effects added to the Guardian and the great voice work by Bart LaRue and James Doohan overcome any silliness in appearance.

Until next time, let's hope that if a retread character comes back in another Star Trek movie, it is something truly alien like the Guardian and hopefully it is done right.

Big congratulations to Darrell and Mike on 200 episodes and 4 years of this show. Thank you for making Character Insight a part of this fun ride Where No Man Has Gone Before.


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

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